Model Size : 1350mm x 1210mm
Scale : 1:220 Circa 2018
Creating the Etihad Model
This model was commissioned in March 2016 and completed in early February 2018. It took an estimated 2000 man hours to research and build during this period. The client and I had met previously and over the course of this commission become good friends.
In 2015 the Etihad stadium had just been expanded, adding a third level to the south stand, taking the capacity from 47,400 to 55,097. The brief for this commission after much consultation was to look to the future and incorporate the addition of the proposed third level to the north stand as well, taking the capacity to 61,000. So this model would be a glimpse into the stadiums future.
The first stage was to visit the stadium and photograph all areas inside and out. Study the architectural design and spend time observing. I needed to build a picture in my head about how this model would be built. How all the sections would fit together and dismantle, then formulate build plan.
This would involve travelling over 1100 miles by road and boat, and once at the destination, there were two single doors and a set of tight stairs to negotiate. The roof would need to be removed for the journey
and once at the destination the model turned on its side. What could possibly go wrong.
The Etihad stadium is curved on all three levels all sides, With players tunnel area and main service tunnel situated on the west and north west respectively. First, the lower bowl was formed. This part of the stadium is a continuous bowl and is excavated out of the ground. Then form the middle deck, again an continuous bowl half as deep as the lower and housing all the vip boxes and match day catering at the rear. Then construct the upper east and upper west decks. Then the new upper south and yet to be built upper north deck. These upper decks would mirror each other, east and west, north and south. Then all the concourse levels were fitted throughout the stadium with support structures. The north and south stands have a large glazed areas outside so its possible to see through from outside to in. This made a nice feature to the model. The outer concourse was then built to complete this phase.
Install seats, vomitories and inside walls. Then all the exposed steel structure supporting the four upper decks. The exterior facade would be split into two parts, both mirroring each other. The older enclosed east and west stands and the new semi glazed north and south stands. Its amazing how a buildings exterior skin can weather in just a few years, so getting the contrast between older and new was important. Also a very distinctive part of this stadium, the eight circular buildings. four on the east and four on the west. These would be the turnstile and exit access to the middle and upper decks. One continuous ramp. They would also play a key part in the roof support.
So now we have a bowl of a stadium three levels high. The roof would present the biggest challenge. This is made from rigid transparent plastic sections, using a scalpel by hand to get the corrugated effect. There are eight main roof pieces, north, east, south and west, anchored at the back and suspended by guy ropes at regular intervals, like and old tent style. The four corners would elegantly marry up the main sections and keep the continuous lines flowing beautifully. All the steel work of the roof beams are mostly hidden from view until you see inside the stadium, then these structural beams are exposed. The roof design has a semi transparent section at the front to let sun light onto the pitch area. The south roof has a larger transparent area where the steel architecture is more apparent.
Adding all the detail, this is what makes the model come alive. The angled glazed panels that marry up the back of the roof and back walls of the stands were made and fitted. The glazed east and west reception buildings. Railings, signage, flood light gantries and more. Before the finishing touches like trees, vehicles, lamp posts, concourse markings, we need a pitch. The contrast of that brilliant green against the back drop of blue and grey. Painstakingly created torepresent a beautifully manicured pitch, and yes, the grass is cut to scale at Peps apparent 21mm length.
This model has been a challenge and a real pleasure to create. A challenge because the stadium is curved both horizontally and vertically. A roof structure that is suspended without a solid framework. The way the old meets the new and having to anticipate how the new sections that have not yet been built will look. Choosing the correct materials was vitally important both for structural and cosmetic reasons. These comprise of many different plastics, woods and metals. Also both oil and water based paints applied in various ways.
Its very pleasing the way its all came together and delivered safely. To be able to make a complicated model that can be striped down to just a hole in the ground. Even the goal posts can be removed easily. Nice.
A big thank you to the client for commissioning this piece, and having the vision to see what was possible and the belief in my abilities to deliver such a bespoke piece.